Monday, October 8, 2012

Rick Riordan Author Event

So, if you remember it was a mere few days ago when I told you all that Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors. From the moment I grabbed Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief up on a whim, I have loved his take on Greek mythology, his fast-paced writing, and his characters. So I am a lucky, lucky girl that he came to Miami for his Mark of Athena tour.

The event was sponsored by Books and Books, the bestest bookstore ever because they're the ones who bring all these great authors to town, but it was held at Temple Judea -- because it needed big space! More than 700 people attended! The room was packed with kids of all ages and adults too -- parents and maybe some other adult fans like myself? I had to stand in the back, as it was literally standing room only by the time I arrived.

Vouchers for the event had to be purchased in advance, and they included a SIGNED copy of Mark of Athena:

and either a Camp Half Blood or Camp Jupiter t-shirt. Now, since I am awesome enough to already have a Camp Half Blood t-shirt, which I sported at the RT Conference earlier this year, I snagged one of these beauties to round out my collection:

(It IS purple, by the way. I have no idea why it comes out blue in this picture.)

Anyway, Rick came out and gave a great presentation. He started by talking about how people are always like, "You should write what you know." His response? "I didn't want to write about what I knew -- I wanted to make things up!" He has always loved Lord of the Rings, and his 8th grade teacher encouraged him to write a story and send it out for publication. This led to his first rejection letter (which his Mom framed and still has), but now, of course, we know him as the author of 20 books. He didn't start off as a writer, though. He was a middle school teacher who loved to tell his students stories in class. Eventually, he did decide to write a book, though, and for awhile he was writing murder mysteries -- one a year. (Including one called Widower's Two-Step where a serial killer is taking out country singers -- sad day! I love country music!)

Eventually we get to the part of the story a lot of us know already -- how Rick's son, Haley, had both dyslexia and ADHD. Rick would tell him Greek myths, which he loved, as bedtime stories, but eventually he ran out. Haley told him to make some up, so he started telling the story of a boy named Percy who was both dyslexic and had ADHD, and was also a demigod...and the rest is history. Rick sent out Percy Jackson to 7 different publishers and they all wanted it, but Disney Hyperion ultimately got it. He always knew it would be 5 books long because of the prophecy in the story, and also because 11 to 16 year olds are in the age range that Rick taught and knew. He says of the Percy Jackson series, "I wanted it to have a nice, strong ending." The Last Olympian, Book 5, is actually my favorite of them, so I would definitely say he succeeded. As he was talking about the Percy Jackson books, he showed us several of their different covers from around the world. Here are the American and British covers for The Last Olympian:

Then: "I thought it would be fun to try to make the Egyptian myths come to life in the same way as Percy Jackson." And the Kane Chronicles were born. Finally, he talked a little bit about The Heroes of Olympus series, about how readers always asked him what happened to Percy Jackson, and he was curious too -- but he also didn't want like Percy Jackson #135. He also talked about The Demigod Diaries (why haven't I read this yet?! I need to STAT!) and how his son Haley actually wrote one of the stories. And then Haley came out! Pretty cool. Haley is now in high school and is currently writing a book of his own. He has the same style of public speaking as his father, and it was really neat to see him up there.

Rick's son Haley talks about his story in The Demigod Diaries
Two more comments on my really long recap. (Hey, I warned you Rick is one of my favorites!) First, the audience was one of the most enthusiastic I have ever seen. They cheered when their favorite characters were mentioned or book covers shown. They raised their hands to answer questions and shouted out responses to some that Rick tossed out. At one point, I saw a little girl jump up out of her seat and jump up and down. And afterwards, as I was waiting in line to buy my book, I saw a little boy had already cracked open the book and was starting to read. 700+ children genuinely excited about reading. It warmed my heart more than I can express!

Secondly, Rick ended by telling us he is going to write about Norse mythology next! You know Book Nerd Mary and I love us some Thor! Needless to say, I can't wait!

A huge thank you to Books and Books for bringing one of my favorite authors to town!

1 comment :

  1. Wow!! This sounds like an AWESOME event. Thanks for sharing it with us.